Plans for apartments on Corkman Irish Pub site made before illegal demolition

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The Corkman Irish pub in Carlton, built in 1857, as it was last month. Photo: James Bowering The pub after it was illegally demolished. Photo: Simon Schluter
Nanjing Night Net

Rubble from the pub was dumped on a site owned by the developers in Cairnlea. Uncontained asbestos was among the rubble. Photo: Justin McManus

Developers who illegally knocked down Carlton’s Corkman Irish Pub had commissioned an architect to draw preliminary plans for a 12-storey tower on the site.

The plan, done before the pub was demolished without planning or building permission this month, shows the historic pub’s facade was to be retained.

In a letter to Planning Minister Richard Wynne, sent last Thursday, the men said they “had not briefed any town planners or other consultants about future developments” on the site.

CHT Architects did the plan. The firm has done a series of apartment projects for developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri.

A brief planning analysis that accompanied the drawing warns that heritage consultants would need to be engaged if all historic, height limit and setback requirements were to be met.

The preliminary sketch by CHT Architects for the site includes details of how to get planning approval for a tower, and notes that planning advice on the site has been sought from Melbourne City Council.

Mr Kutlesovski and Mr Shaqiri knocked down the 159-year-old pub on October 15 despite it having a heritage overlay. They dumped building rubble from the pub – which included asbestos – on another site they own in Cairnlea, without permission for transferring dangerous waste. They now face fines totalling more than $1 million.

The letter to Mr Wynne said: “Our intention was to have the property tenanted and to hold the site for five to 10 years, prior to exploring future, modest redevelopment.”

On Sunday, Mr Shaqiri said the drawings “were only concept drawings” and had been done “to demonstrate the potential of the site”.

“There was no intention to build on the site,” he said. Mr Shaqiri also said the drawings “show we were always going to retain the facade”.

He said he and Mr Kutlesovski were not used to “this type of situation. At the moment we are like deer in headlights”.

They now wanted to rebuild the hotel they had knocked down, “using as many of the materials available” from the original pub, he said.

The firm of architects that did the drawing of the proposed tower on the Corkman Irish Pub site has worked on at least three projects for Mr Kutlesovski and Mr Shaqiri: 8 Lygon in Brunswick, Havenlea in Cairnlea, and My Place Hawthorn near Auburn railway station.

CHT’s design for the tower on the Carlton site specifies that at least the pub’s facade would need to be kept and that this would need “input from an experienced heritage consultant”.

It labels the design as being a “student housing option”. It is understood the development was to comprise around 100 bedrooms in a tower made up of one and two-bedroom apartments.

CHT Architects founder David Carabott was contacted about his firm’s plan for the site but did not respond to messages left for him on Sunday.

Mr Kutlesovski and Mr Shaqiri have admitted they knowingly knocked down the pub without proper permission, but said their experience on another site – where a wall collapse had injured a pedestrian – led to them ignoring heritage, building and demolition requirements after the building was damaged in a fire.

Victoria Police is still investigating the fire that broke out at the pub the week before it was demolished.

Mr Wynne said there were “many questions hanging over the Corkman site” and that this was a key reason the government had, with Melbourne City Council, applied to the state planning tribunal to force Mr Shaqiri and Mr Kutlesovski to rebuild the pub.

The government has also gazetted a new planning overlay on the Carlton land, forbidding its owners from developing anything except a two-storey venue of similar size and style to the demolished pub.

“We have put planning controls on the site, referred it to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and there are several investigations underway because the pub simply should not have been knocked down,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.